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Strada St. Ursola.—Malta

Letitia Elizabeth Landon 1802 (Chelsea) – 1838 (Cape Coast)

"A View of many dwellings, long tenanted by the last remnants of Chivalry."


Young knight, that broidered cloak undo,
And break that golden chain in two;
Take from your hand its jewels fair,
Shear those bright curls of sunny hair,
And offer up at yonder shrine
All vanities that once were thine.

No more the victor of the ring,
Thy triumphs will the minstrel sing;
No more upon thy helm the glove
Will ask of fame to sanction love.
The saraband untrod must be,
The lists, the dance are closed for thee.

Look to the past—if present there
Be visible one great despair:
Look to the future—if it give
Nothing which charmeth thee to live.
Then come—the present knows its doom;
Thy heart already is a tomb.

Thy cheek is pale—thy brow is worn—
Thy lip is bitter in its scorn.
I read in them the signs that tell
The heart’s impassioned chronicle.
’Tis past!—and Malta’s iron vow
To thee is less than nothing now.
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on March 12, 2020

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Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Letitia Elizabeth Landon was an English poet. Born 14th August 1802 at 25 Hans Place, Chelsea, she lived through the most productive period of her life nearby, at No.22. A precocious child with a natural gift for poetry, she was driven by the financial needs of her family to become a professional writer and thus a target for malicious gossip (although her three children by William Jerdan were successfully hidden from the public). In 1838, she married George Maclean, governor of Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast, whence she travelled, only to die a few months later (15th October) of a fatal heart condition. Behind her post-Romantic style of sentimentality lie preoccupations with art, decay and loss that give her poetry its characteristic intensity and in this vein she attempted to reinterpret some of the great male texts from a woman’s perspective. Her originality rapidly led to her being one of the most read authors of her day and her influence, commencing with Tennyson in England and Poe in America, was long-lasting. However, Victorian attitudes led to her poetry being misrepresented and she became excluded from the canon of English literature, where she belongs. more…

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